Friday, April 11, 2014

Totally Texas -- Ennis has the blues (& that’s good!)

Pretty as paint, tough as nails, nothing says springtime in Texas like bluebonnets. Nothing our temperamental weather can dish out--last year’s drought, last month’s sixteen degree temperatures--can faze the little blue lupines whose several species are our state flower. And in North Texas, no place does them better than the town of Ennis, about half an hour’s drive south of Dallas on I-45.

But savor them while you can. Their bloom time is brief. By the end of April, it’s adios bluebonnets for another year.

I’ve been watching the Ennis Garden Club’s weekly updates on the blooms. The bluebonnets are expected to peak about the third week of April, but they’re already ravishing, just in time for Ennis’s Bluebonnet Trails Festival this Saturday and Sunday, April 12-13. This year, the north trail is blooming earlier and more heavily than the south trail. And luckily so, because that big acreage on the north trail’s Sugar Ridge Road is unfenced, and its owners are generous in making it available for the traditional kids in the bluebonnets photos. The road at that point is also paved and has wide shoulders to make car parking easier. I’m mentioning that because otherwise much of the best bluebonnet viewing is only reachable by lightly graveled country roads without shoulders and flanked by drainage ditches.

The photo accompanying this post was taken on the north trail, where I found bluebonnets blooming in company with orange Indian paintbrush flowers, for one of nature’s great color combos.
And although I’m always nervous about small children and busy highways, there are several places along the I-45 right of way where slopes covered with bluebonnets are also great for picture taking.

The self-guided driving trails in Ennis are free, with maps and directions available at Wear walking shoes, preferably with closed toes. Once you find a place to pull your car over, you’ll want to stroll a bit to get your fill of sightseeing, and roadsides are dotted with brambles as well as bluebonnets.

Groups may also book bus tours with a garden club guide available for $50, payable to the Ennis Garden Club. Advance reservations required. With all the picture snapping going on, of course there’s a photo contest.

While you’re in Ennis this weekend, check out the festival, beginning at 9 a.m., with arts and crafts, food, music, children’s activities, and of course, bluebonnet souvenirs. Saturday’s events include the vintage cars of the Antique American Independent Automobile Show. Sunday’s includes a master gardener’s tips on creating a butterfly garden.

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